Why being part of a real community is key for our mental health?

Humans are the dominant creatures on earth, and the creatures that dominate the earth are cooperative — ants, termites, humans. We have a huge capacity for high levels of cooperation, with altruism being a strong motivating factor. Some of our evolutionary success occurred because groups formed, and they tended to be altruistic. So independently of kin selection or Genetic relationships — or I like to call it family networks —groups formed and cooperated, this is exactly what made us successful as a species. [1]

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, USA recommends joining a community group or becoming a volunteer in order to buffer the effects of stress. Another benefit to community wellbeing is shown in a study by the Australian Institute of Criminology in which a ten percent increase in community participation was related to a statistically significant 1.9% decline in violent crime rates. A decrease in criminal behavior can lead to a further increase in social participation as people feel safer in their community environment. The Australian Government promotes social participation and social capital in the Stronger Families and Community Strategy.[2]

Learning is an inherently social phenomenon and an intrinsic collaborative process. Peer discussion is inherently social and increase learning through negotiating with peers and synthesizing ideas, whilst feedback is essential to effective learning, and when done with peers, benefits both the individual giving and receiving feedback. Communities that share values, goals, interests, and expectations will benefit greatly by encouraging peer learning and making this collaborative process as open and inclusive as possible!

Communities that are formed around a common topic of interest and where is possible to discuss, debate, and learn from each other, are crucial to the development of human relationships. All relations start as a weak tie and throughout time some develop into the so-called strong ties. Now, for new information and ideas, weak ties are more important to us than strong ones[3]. Also is proven in several studies that finding a new job weak ties served as bridges: they provide more efficient access to new information.

Diverse communities can provide an opportunity for people from different racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds to come into contact with each other. These experiences can create a positive effect on people’s identities. Being exposed to a set of diverse points of views and perspectives is a fundamental aspect or cultural and societal development. Constant exposure to different points of views, and perspectives has the potential to create higher levels of tolerance amount society. And overal harmony between different tribes and groups. It allows us to find our close comonalities between the US vs THEM.



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